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'Vigilante'--an apt word to describe Bloomberg


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Date published: 5/21/2007

I was disappointed with how The Free Lance-Star interpreted legislation I carried for Attorney General Bob McDonnell prohibiting paid out-of-state freelancers from entrapping law-abiding Virginia firearms dealers in illegal sales ["Bloomberg's sting," May 16].

In fact, the bill actually made it clear that Virginia and federal law-enforcement officials can conduct "stings" where illegal firearms sales are occurring. So readers will be accurately informed, the bill prohibits "straw purchase" set-ups by non-law-enforcement agents.

A "straw purchase" involves two people entering a gun shop. One expresses interest in purchasing a gun and then wanders away while the co-conspirator walks up and expresses similar interest in buying the same gun. The gun dealer is then supposed to question the authenticity of the second "buyer's" intent and not sell the firearm to that person in case that individual is a felon.

One can easily imagine how a dealer could lose track of inquiries and make an error in a crowded gun shop on the first day of dove season.

Deliberately setting up a "straw purchase" to foster an illegal sale is blatant entrapment. Mayor Bloomberg's "stunt" is designed to show how crime on his streets is everybody else's fault.

If Bloomberg wants to fix crime in New York City, he should hire more police, not waste time and money on straw-purchase scams to score political points for a possible presidential run.

Finally, The Free Lance-Star seems offended by my use of the word "vigilante" to characterize Bloomberg's sortie into Virginia with paid agents to criminalize law-abiding citizens. Would the FLS support a Virginia group baiting cars with windows down and keys in the ignition on New York's streets to prove the point that car thieves exist in the Big Apple?

That would be vigilante behavior in my book, and I would say so again.

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, Woodbridge

The writer represents Prince William and Fauquier counties in the Virginia House of Delegates.